The Museum of Applied Art will open its doors to the exhibition of a married couple of artists from Rijeka, the scenographer Dorian Sokolić (1928-2005) and costume designer Ružica Nenadović-Sokolić (1933-2014). The exhibition will be realised as a joint programme of the City Museum of Rijeka, Faculty of Applied Arts and Museum of Applied Art in Belgrade.
The exhibition Behind the Curtain – the Scenic World of Dorian Sokolić and Ružica Nenadović Sokolić represents more than 50 years of long and fruitful creative work of these Rijeka’s artists. They began collaborating on the production of stage and costume designs for theatrical performances at the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade back in their students’ days in the early 1950s. Their creations are rare examples of persistent work and their compatibility, which they have never been able to fully achieve while working with others. Together they have designed several hundreds of performances, into which they have breathed stage life and to which they have given a special look.
In addition to the Sokolićs’ selected works of art, the Museum exhibition will also display sketches in various techniques (80), models (7) and costumes (17), as well as a number of posters and photographs, which came out of their workshop, and are owned by the City Museum of Rijeka.
In 1950 Dorian Sokolić was the only student admitted to the Department of Scenography, at the Academy of Applied Arts in Belgrade, and soon he gained the right “to grade skip” the semesters. His exceptionality is also evidenced by the fact that the work he carried out under the mentorship of Professor Milenko Šerban, was proclaimed the best at the Academy’s internal competition for the stage design of Tennessee’s Glass Menagerie, which had its premiere, under the direction of Minja Dedić, at the Contemporary Drama Theatre, on 20 December, 1952.
Dorian’s work was greatly influenced by his stay in Paris in 1958, where he became acquainted with the reductionism of the stage dominated by the performer, the ultimate stylisation and modernist purity. After the scenographers who mainly offered archaic inscenations, Sokolić, as a representative of the younger generation, shined with innovative solutions. He found his role models in modern painting movements, constructivism and post-cubist poetry. Since the 1960s, his expression has still been extremely abstract, but lyrically softer and based on informalism, expressionism and tachisme.
Ružica Nenadović Sokolić also studied at the Belgrade Academy, in the class of painter and art historian Pavle Vasić and costume designer Milica Babić-Andrić. She finished her five-year studies in three and a half years, so she graduated at the age of 21, at the same time as Dorian, although he was five years older than her. Like him, she started her career at the Smederevo theatre and Belgrade children’s theatre Boško Buha, and continued and finished it in Rijeka. Her best achievements are considered to be the costumes designed for opera spectacles. These monumental creations emphasised the dignity and power of characters, enhanced the effectiveness of choir groups and perfectly suited the construction of opera performers. With her costumes she managed to outline the psychological states of protagonists, to differentiate the leading protagonists from the secondary ones, positive from the negative ones, the oppressed from the conquerors, placing them into symbolic contrasts.
The spouses jointly exhibited at the Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space in Prague, as well as at the International Triennial Exhibition of Theatre Set and Costume Design in Novi Sad, where Ružica was awarded Bronze Medallion (1966) and Golden Medallion (1981), and Dorian was awarded Bronze Medallion (1969).
As part of the accompanying programme, there has been set up a students’ exhibition entitled Playground which “emphasises interdisciplinarity, experiment and play, opens up and provides space for cultivating innocence and imagination, re-examining play in the past and now...”. The idea was to directly connect those two exhibitions and to allow them to present at the same place the creative work of one of the first generations of the Faculty of Applied Arts, to which the Sokolićs belonged, along with the creative work of today’s students, which marks the beginning of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the existence and work of the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade.